Drew Zahn's movie reviews for WorldNetDaily are as much about reinforcing his employer's right-wing right-wing Christian agenda as they are about the film he's ostensibly reviewing.
By Terry Krepel Posted 5/27/2014
The name of Drew Zahn's WorldNetDaily movie-review column says all you need to know about it: "Popcorn And A (World)view" means that Zahn will focus more on whether the film fits his right-wing ideological and religious agenda than its technical merits.
Indeed, that's what Zahn delivers. His reviews are replete with complaints of how a film offends his religious sensibilities, as well as serve as a forum for anti-Obama diatribes.
'Tangled' teaches kids to think for themselves
In a November 2010 review, Zahn stated that "there is much to praise" in the Disney film "Tangled," but there is much not to like "if you but stop and analyze the resounding message this movie plants in children's minds." Indeed, it peddles a "very worldly and yet completely wicked and untrue philosophy on adolescence."
And what is that "wicked and untrue philosophy"? The idea of adolescent rebellion:
And, of course, Ryder and Rapunzel are proved justified in the girl's rebellion, the mother is shown wicked and the youngsters' little "road trip" proves to be just what the doctor ordered. And it's all OK for the young minds in the audience to be seeped in this spirit of defiance and parent-degradation, because the mother is really the bad guy.
Happily ever after. Walk out of the theater smiling. And then, somehow, be surprised when your children think you're an overprotective know-nothing, assume they're justified in rebellion and do a little bar-hopping, frat-party "road trip" of their own.
Wait. What happened to the happy ending?
Is "Tangled" just describing adolescent life as it is? Or is it part of a wider culture that is prescribing life as it wants to be to loose teens from their parents in order to teach its own values?
I'm the father of four teenagers, and like many parents, I've found that adolescents do begin at about that age to think critically about authority. They question the old rules, they long for and test their independence. Stretching the wings is a necessary part of growing up.
But nowhere does God prescribe rebellion and defiance as a proper path to adulthood. It is not "good" and it is not "healthy." No, contrary to popular belief and Disney brainwashing, children do not have to suddenly become the spawn of Satan (the first rebel, after all) when they turn 13.
One of the greatest rewards I've found in watching the homeschooling community is that its children are often raised by parents who question the entire worldly paradigm of what kids are like and supposed to be, including what they can be like as teenagers. And while every community has its share of rebellious and difficult teens, I have marveled at watching how some young men and women from families that reject the message of "Tangled" grow up in partnership with their parents to be models of respect and independence tempered by Godly submission. They are the best example I have seen to prove rebellion is simply not a mandate.
Got that? Teenagers should never rebel against their parents -- shouldn't even think different, apparently. Submission, not independence, is the order of the day.
That was such silly opinion that even Zahn conceded he might be wrong.
In a follow-up column, Zahn began by condescendingly writing that "Occasionally, one of my critics makes a point so well, so thoughtfully, I must concede the merit of their argument." He then reprinted a letter from a mother whose daughter disagreed with the idea that the movie left "the impression that it was OK to rebel against her parents." The parent then provided a slightly less controlling theory that Zahn could apparently live with: While she does think that "we should expect obedience [from children] by instilling truth with loving discipline so they will not look for something else," she adds: "Even if we have our children dedicated and raise our kids to know Jesus, they will not be reconciled to the King until they have their own moment of revelation and embrace the Truth themselves."
At least this mother, unlike Zahn, seems to acknowledge the existence of free will.
In his July 2011 review of “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” Zahn declared his intent to "have a little fun at Obama's expense" by arguing that Obama is a Decepticon:
At the opening of the film, the leader of the Autobots explains that on their planet, the Autobots fought for freedom, while the Decepticons fought for tyranny. Since no one could plausibly argue Obama is fighting for greater freedom, but a case could be made his policies are pushing us toward a more tyrannical federal government … clue No. 1, Obama is a Decepticon.
Later in the film, a human accomplice of the Decepticons proclaims, "You have to be on the side of progress if you want to be part of history": Hmmm, "progress," progressive, ... yep, clue No. 2 Obama is a Decepticon.
The same accomplice also declares, "We all work for the Decepticons now." Given Obama's record government spending, attempted takeovers in the banking, auto and health industries and an ever-increasing percentage of the population working in the public sector ... yep, clue No. 3 Obama is a Decepticon.
Finally, a reporter over at MSNBC recently got in a lot of trouble for turning aside after listening to Obama speak, when he thought the microphones were off, and calling Obama "kind of a dick."
In the film, the Decepticon's human accomplice listens to Megatron give yet another self-aggrandizing speech, turns aside where the Decpticons can't hear and pronounces of his robot leader, "What a dick!"
As I was already joking with myself about the idea of the Decepticons being like Obama, when I heard the same crude word used to describe the same, condescending, self-centered attitude ... I just about fell out of my chair laughing! What are the odds of the film so paralleling real life?
If a WND employee is willing to believe this about Obama, even as a sad joke, no wonder WND insists on clinging to its birther conspiracy.
Zahn used his March 2012 review of the film "Mirror Mirror," a takeoff of the Snow White story, to liken the film's "evil queen" to Obama:
The queen has lived in isolation from the people for years (Columbia, Harvard, the White House, vacationing in Hawaii and Paris if you catch my hint) and slowly finds herself in charge of a financially crumbling kingdom (the U.S. isn’t a kingdom, but the parallel is still there, yes?).
Her answer to this dilemma? She’s going to spend lavishly in a scheme to fix her country’s financial fortunes (stimulus package!).
“But, my queen,” her advisor explains, “you’re broke.”
Her answer? “Then go collect more taxes!”
Sounds quite a bit like the plan proposed by Obama spend the nation into oblivion, then raise taxes to pay for it.
Later, the local magistrate balks at surrendering the people’s money to the queen’s czar, I mean, assistant. But tax day just so happens to arrive right after the kingdom is devastated by news of Snow White’s death.
“Are you seriously going to argue about money,” the queen’s assistant asks, “on this day of grieving?”
No sooner were the words out of the assistant’s lips, than my wife and I turned to one another in the theater and said in near unison, “No, because you should never let a crisis go to waste.”
Of course, the words we quoted weren’t actually spoken in “Mirror Mirror,” but by Obama’s former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
Later in the film, Snow White learns the bandits have stolen what the thieves call “the queen’s gold,” but what is really the collected tax money.
“Did you break into the queen’s palace to steal it?” she asks.
“No, we got it outside the village,” she’s told.
“So you stole the people’s gold,” she responds.
Wait! Wait! You mean tax money is actually the people’s money? Hmm ... sounds like “Evil Queen Obama” could learn a few things by looking in the “Mirror.”
Zahn begins his February 2013 review of the film "Identity Thief" this way:
Women are unequal, so we’ll have a “sexual revolution” .... People in the inner city are disproportionately poor, so we’ll ensure their “welfare” ...
Not every religion is welcome in our schools, so we’ll kick God out altogether ...
We have millions without access to health care, so we’ll create a government safety net and mandate everyone has insurance ...
And now that we’ve enacted all these liberal “reforms”...
... women are no longer honored by men, their sexuality demeaned from sacred to casual, and 50 million of their children are dead to abortion.
... generations of inner city children grow up without fathers, and whole communities have lost the will to work, looking to government to provide for them.
... rampant immorality, crime, drugs, teen pregnancy and general adolescent stupidity reign in our schools, as academic standards tumble to the sewers.
... insurance rates are through the roof, businesses are being buried in health-care costs, doctors are leaving the profession in droves and insurance plans and employers are dropping people, so millions who had good private insurance may soon have to rely on an inferior government plan. And I haven’t even talked about rationing and the very real “death panels” yet.
Gee, how are those reforms working out for ya?
The same way liberal reforms almost always work out. They address a real problem ... and make it worse.
The same thing happens in Hollywood. Perfectly good stories, intriguing ideas and talented actors are put together on a well-intentioned project ... then a triple dose of liberalism turns the whole movie to dung.
It's not until the 12th paragraph that Zahn gives his readers any indication this is supposed to be a movie review, which he ultimately ends by blaming the movie's alleged lack of quality on "the ruinous effects of a liberal agenda."
Zahn's April 2013 review of “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” is more of a pro-gun op-ed than a review:
A child of the ’80s, I grew up watching any and every action cartoon I could, from “He-Man” to “Transformers” to, of course, “G.I. Joe.”
And thanks to the public service announcements at the end of every “G.I. Joe” episode, I learned to test a door before opening it if my house is on fire, not to pet strange dogs and never to play around downed power lines.
As the Joes explained every episode, “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.”
The makers of the original cartoons had hoped kids would walk away from “G.I. Joe” having learned something and if we’re smart, we should learn something from the new Joe film in theaters, “G.I. Joe: Retaliation”: namely, that the quickest path to subjugation is to strip the good guys of their guns.
Part of the film’s plot is a plan by the villains to eliminate all the world’s nuclear weapons. While many folks would consider this a noble, rather than villainous, enterprise in fact, total nuclear disarmament is a common goal among leftists “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” reveals the villains of “Cobra” still have a weapon of mass destruction up their sleeve. When all the world’s governments are nuke-free, there will be no deterrent left to stop Cobra from demanding the world submit or die at the hands of their vastly superior weaponry.
The analogy, though missed by many in Hollywood, D.C. and the media, is abundantly clear to those of us in the real world: If you take guns away from the good guys, the bad guys will still have them. And without anyone armed enough to stop them, villains can force the masses to again submit or die.
Particularly in the U.S., where there are hundreds of thousands of guns in circulation and a border porous enough to allow many more in, restricting responsible American citizens (i.e., “the good guys”) to merely token gun ownership, while drug lords, burglars, rapists, mass murderers and terrorists (i.e., “the bad guys”) are freely armed to the teeth is not so very different from the dilemma the world faces in “Retaliation” when its nukes are gone and Cobra still has the ability to destroy nations.
Granted, we might all love a utopian world where there are no nukes, no wars, no guns. But until Christ returns and makes the impossible possible, the “bad guys” will have their guns, so the “good guys” need them too.
The writers of the 2nd Amendment knew this just as well as the average “Joe.” And now you know. And knowing is half the battle.
(Zahn also notes that "The film’s sexuality includes a shirtless man." So any shirtless male is, by definition, "sexual"?)
When Zahn does find a film whose ideological premise he does approve of -- like the November 2012 "Red Dawn" reboot -- he pretends his motivation for liking it is not political:
Out of curiosity, I took a look at how film critics from other newspapers and publications reviewed the new “Red Dawn,” a remake of the 1984 cult classic about teenagers taking up guns and defending America from communist invaders.
You’d think from the critics’ condescending sneers that the remake is utter garbage.
“Preposterous,” said one critic of the remake’s premise that North Korea could invade the U.S. today. “Outdated,” said another, suggesting the plot line be relegated to the ancient Cold War and the once-upon-a-time Red Scare.
The only thing that’s “preposterous,” however, is the speed at which these obviously liberal critics leaped to dismiss the movie. I honestly, without hyperbole, wonder if some of them even watched it.
For starters, the movie explains that North Korea doesn’t invade without “help,” and that they used a cyber attack on the American financial system and an electromagnetic pulse weapon, or EMP, against the U.S. infrastructure. Furthermore, North Korea only invades the Pacific Northwest, while other enemies attack elsewhere. It’s not really that implausible.
Besides, the original film cast Cuba as the invading force not the Soviet Union, as is commonly reported so don’t talk to me about “preposterous.”
And as for “outdated,” the Red Scare is far from over, as many Americans outside the leftist worldview recognize. It’s just that the threat of communism in the U.S. now comes from our own public universities, instead of Moscow.
So politically biased bashing aside, let’s look at the film a little more honestly, shall we?
It appears Zahn wants us to believe that his "Red Dawn" review isn't driven by political bias and is more "honest" than what those liberals say. But from his communist fearmongering to warnings of EMP attacks, he's regurgitating what he reads at his employer's website, which nobody can plausibly claim is lacking in political bias.
He's such a screaming fanboy of this film -- he even defends the dialogue, which "sounds like Cold War drivel at patriotic platitudes to a leftist, but it’s downright inspirational to the rest of us those of us who don’t think of George Washington simply as an imperialistic slave-owner or Ronald Reagan as a rich-loving, trickle-down oligarch" -- he ends his review with: "Allow me to join the chorus of cheers: 'Wolverines!!!!!'"
Defending the Bible
Drew Zahn's Nov. 17 WorldNetDaily review of "12 Years A Slave" is lavish with praise for the movie ... except for the part about how it depicts pro-slavery forces using the Bible to justify slavery. Why? Not because it isn't true -- which even Zahn concedes -- but because telling that truth might cause people to stop believing in the Bible:
Even more troubling, however, was the film’s frequent assault on the Bible.
I won’t say “assault on Christianity,” per se, for the faith of the slaves in the film was often a balm, a positive influence in times of need.
But on multiple occasions in “12 Years a Slave,” a white plantation owner is seen reading or quoting the Bible to his slaves while in the background or voiceover you hear his slaves being whipped, screaming or otherwise suffering.
Yes, the Bible was twisted by many to justify slavery. That’s a part of American history. It’s a shameful part to be sure.
But again, I ask: What impact does this depiction have on audiences today?
My concern is that it paints Southern Christianity which prizes the words of Scripture and the value of the gospel if not all of biblical Christianity, as inherently hypocritical. It turns the Bible-quoters into villains, when the Bible-quoters are actually holding out the greatest hope for America today.
Director Steve McQueen draws a brilliant picture, but I’m concerned he paints with way too broad a brush here. After all, belief in the Bible laid the foundation for America’s fundamental beliefs in equality and the value of every individual. It was the biblical faith of William Wilberforce that led him to campaign tirelessly against slavery and see it outlawed in the British Empire.
It really all boils down to this: American slavery was a shameful, abhorrent practice. It violated in the most basic and obvious ways the Christian principles upon which this nation was founded and the virtues of freedom and equality those principles engendered.
But how do we in 2013 handle this shame?
“12 Years a Slave” rips the scabs off the wound and all the more effectively for how well it’s made but what are we going to do with the fresh bleeding? I’m doubtful most Americans will see from “12 Years a Slave” that our healing and redemption comes in Christ. I’m concerned the way the Bible is depicted in it, that modern Americans will run further from the healing we need, rather than nearer.
Zahn might also be concerned that conservative Christians using the Bible to justify discrimination against gays -- a driving force at WND -- will be perceived in the same light as those who used the Bible to justify slavery. He obviously can't have that.
It was a given that the biblical literalists at WND would despise the film "Noah" -- so much so, in fact, that it tried to capitalize on the film's publicity by publishing a book called "Noah: The Real Story." (Just because WND despises the idea of a non-literal Noah doesn't mean they're averse to making a buck off it.) It was also a given that Zahn would also despise the film. But the question was: How would he despise it? He managed to find a somewhat fresh take in his March 30 review, likening it to some game called “Two Truths and a Lie” (spoiler: the movie is the lie):
For the Bible is very clear from the first of Noah’s story that God established a promise (the biblical word is “covenant”) with Noah and his descendants, and even as He commanded the family to leave the Ark, God told the humans to be fruitful and multiply. Scripture says God was grieved with humanity, but Noah found favor in his eyes. The plan all along was for God to show mercy upon Noah and his family, to reveal God’s salvation from his own justice. It’s a story all about God revealed through Noah, but still all about God.
“Noah,” however, cuts out the most important part of the story. In “Noah,” God announces not mercy, but judgment and judgment alone. Then He goes silent. He abandons Noah to decide whether humanity will live or not.
That’s great drama, but demonic theology.
SPOILER ALERT: Then, in the critical moment, it’s not God who chooses love and mercy, but Noah. God is the bad guy in this movie, and Noah is the good guy. That’s just a wicked lie coated in the disguise of other truths.
And even though Emma Watson delivers a speech in the end that makes it appear as though God might be merciful in having chosen Noah for this task, she still reasserts it is not God who chose to save humanity, but Noah. As though God just abdicated his throne and delegated that critical call to Noah.
Look, I don’t really mind fictionalizing the story and embellishing it with rock monsters and all kinds of other glitz. I’ll forgive straying from the details of the story to spice up the drama. But when Darren Aronofsky took a story about God’s mercy and instead made it about his wrath, when it substitutes God’s indifference for God’s intimate love, when it makes God out to be the villain of the film ... that’s not just fiction; it’s evil.
Presumably the millions of human and animal souls who perished in the flood, not all of whom guilty of anything in particular, felt somewhat different about the nature of God's mercy.
This is what happens when people like Zahn put adherence to an ideology before anything else.